Religious figures divided over treatment of Qadhafi’s corpse

Opinion is divided among religious figures over the treatment of the body of former Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi, with some condemning what they call the abuse of his corpse, while others have declared him an infidel, and therefore not entitled to an Islamic burial.

Qadhafi was killed near his home town of Sirte on Thursday, and disturbing images of him being roughed-up and finally killed by angry fighters quickly circulated around the world.

The former leader was still alive when he was captured near Sirte. In the video, filmed by a bystander in the crowd and later aired on television, Qadhafi is shown being dragged off a vehicle and pulled to the ground by his hair.

Sheikh Mahmoud Ashour of Al-Azhar's Islamic Research Academy in Egypt, said: “Islam prohibits abusing the corpse of any human being. In Islam, people should respect the dignity of the dead body."

Meanwhile, Coptic priest Father Alkomos Abdel Maseeh said, “The dead body has sacred. A simple description of what happened [to Qadhafi’s corpse] is that it is against all norms and human rights standards.”

On Saturday, in Misrata, the curious and the relieved filed for a second day through a market cold store to view the former Libyan leader's body. The spectacle is seen by some as running contrary to the laws of Islam, whereby the body should be buried as soon as possible.

Muatassim Qadhafi, one of Muammar' sons, was also killed on Thursday, and his body is yet to be buried.

However, Libya’s grand mufti, Sheikh Sadiq al-Ghariany, said that Qadhafi is an infidel, and that funeral prayers for him in mosques or by the Muslim public, sheikhs and scholars go against Islamic law.

Ghariany said on Sunday in a fatwa – a religious opinion concerning Islamic law – and broadcast by Libyan media, that Qadhafi had gone against Islamic traditions and that his words and deeds during his reign showed that he was not a Muslim.

The prevailing opinion in the Islamic world is that a Muslim cannot go against the rulings of the Quran or the Sunnah, the practices and sayings of Prophet Mohamed.

Ghariany went on to say, “There is a valid reason for not praying for him, which is for him to become an example for other rulers."

He added that Gaddafi "may be buried in a Muslim cemetary, washed and prayed for by his family and relatives only”.

Ghariany said the former ruler “should be buried in an unmarked grave to avoid causing a rift between Libyans and so that his grave does not become a shrine."

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